OU gymnast comes forward as victim of former US National Team doctor

University of Oklahoma gymnast Maggie Nichols. (Manley, Stewart, Finaldi Lawyers)

A University of Oklahoma gymnast, called "the best collegiate gymnast in the country" by ESPN, is coming forward as a victim in the sex abuse scandal against a former Team USA and Olympic doctor.

OU sophomore Maggie Nichols released a statement Tuesday saying she was a victim of former USA Gymnastics Team Physician Dr. Larry Nassar.

"Recently, three of my friends and former National Team members who medaled at the 2012 Olympics have bravely stepped forward to proclaim they were sexually assaulted by USA Gymnastics Team Physician Dr. Larry Nassar," wrote Nichols. "Today I join them."

Nassar, the former team doctor at Michigan State University, was sentenced in November 2017 to 60 years in prison on Federal child pornography charges. He also pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan State Court and will be sentenced on those counts later this month. Nassar was removed as team doctor of USA Gymnastics and the US National team in 2015 following the complaints from Nichols and Olympic athletes Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.

"Up until now, I was identified as Athlete A by USA gymnastics, the US Olympic Committee and Michigan State University," said Nichols. "I want everyone to know that he did not do this to Athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols."

Nichols says her first contact with Nassar came when she was 13 or 14 years old when she made the USA National Team. But problems with the team doctor didn't surface until she was 14 and began having back problems.

"I trusted what he was doing at first, but then he started touching me in places I really didn’t think he should," said Nichols. "He didn’t have gloves on and he didn’t tell me what he was doing. There was no one else in the room and I accepted what he was doing because I was told by adults that he was the best doctor and he could help relieve my pain. He did this 'treatment' on me, on numerous occasions."

It wasn't until a coach overheard Nichols talking with another teammate about the 'treatment' that Nassar was reported to USA Gymnastics staff.

"It's been very painful," Maggie's mom, Gina Nichols said.

Her parents opened up about the investigation, how their daughter is doing and how they feel about what's happened.

John and Gina Nichols said they were told Team USA would handle the situation and turn the case over to the authorities. They said they met with someone who interviewed them, but the investigator turned out to be someone hired by the team, not law enforcement.

"We were under the guise that this was being handled by the FBI," John said, "and that we shouldn't contact anyone because we may interfere with this investigation that would ultimately pull the child molester, this pedophile, this creature. We didn't want to interfere with what would put him in prison for life."

"In order for these girls to heal, they need to have people take accountability for what was allowed to happen to them by these entities," Gina said.

Nichols also blames USA Gymnastics and the USOC for continuing to expose young girls to Nassar.

“USA Gymnastics brazen attempt to coverup the largest child sex abuse scandal in sports resulted in the molestation of hundreds of little girls. Chairman Paul Parilla and his Board should resign. If they don’t, the United States Olympic Committee has a responsibility to decertify this organization and replace it with one that will put the health and safety of athletes above money and medals,” said Ms. Nichols attorney John Manly.

"I would like to let everyone know that I am doing OK," says Nichols. "My strong faith has helped me endure. It is a work in progress. I will strive to ensure the safety of young athletes who have big dreams just like mine and I will encourage them to stand up and speakif something doesn’t seem right."

Nichols came to the University of Oklahoma in 2017 and led the Sooners to a NCAA National Championship. She also set an Oklahoma record in the all-around competition.

"She's got great support in Oklahoma, her coaches, her teammates-- tremendous support," John said.

"They're her family for her, because she's not here," Gina said.

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